Valencia girls basketball starts league play with win against Saugus

Valencia junior guard Camille Pagkalinawan drives downcourt in a Foothill League matchup with Saugus at Saugus High School Friday night. Cory Rubin/The Signal

When Valencia girls basketball’s Yasmin Ahllamara stops in her tracks midway between the arc and the half-court line to shoot a 3-pointer, the action around her doesn’t stop buzzing. But in Ahllamara’s mind, there’s nothing.

“Honestly, my favorite part about shots like that is not thinking,” Ahllamara said. “It’s kind of like, I know my range and I know what I practiced, so when someone leaves me open in my range, it’s just to shoot it, no thinking. It’s a good feeling.”

When the ball swishes through the net, movement and thoughts start again. Ahllamara and the Vikings found themselves in countless situations like this as they beat Saugus 56-38 at Saugus on Friday.

Valencia (5-5 overall, 1-0 in Foothill League) worked its way to a lead early, ending the first quarter ahead 17-6 on a layup from Skylar Ingram.

Valencia sophomore forward Mailey Ballard drives to the hoop in a Foothill League matchup with Saugus at Saugus High School Friday night. Cory Rubin/The Signal

The second quarter is where the 3’s began to fall. Ahllamara shot two deep treys from nearly half court as the Centurions were pressuring Valencia to shoot from the outside.

“We know that’s going to be our game, we hope to shoot 20 to 30 3’s every game because we know we’re going to make 10 and that’s part of our game,” said Vikes coach Ken Honaker. “We have a lot of sets that really dictate us to get good looks on the 3’s and the girls really perfect it in practice every day.”

Just three different Centurions managed to score in the second quarter as compared to Valencia’s seven as the Vikings took a 29-12 lead heading into halftime.

Saugus (11-2, 0-1) came out of the locker room a different team after the break, however, passing around the perimeter on offense and boxing the Vikings out of the paint on defense.

“They came out in the second half pressing us and I think there was a bit of panic at first, but in the end, we did finish the game,” Ahllamara said.

Valencia was still able to get shots off on the outside, and if those shots didn’t land, Ingram was waiting on the inside for the second opportunity. She finished the game with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

“If we start hitting shots on the outside, that makes people close out and leaves Skylar open on the inside,” Ahllamara said. “So the more shots we put on the outside, the more of an inside-outside game we can play.”

Saugus junior point guard Monique Febles drives downcourt in a Foothill League matchup with Saugus at Saugus High School Friday night. Cory Rubin/The Signal

The Vikings’ offensive flow slowed in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter as the Cents were able to drive to the net to close the deficit. Monique Febles scored seven points in the final frame and finished the night with 14 points total.

Libbie McMahan had 10 points and although Ashlyn Canel scored one point, coach Jason Conn credited her as the best player for Saugus that night.

“She was intense aggressive and fearless diving on the floor for loose balls and constant pressure on defense,” he said.

For Valencia, Ahllamara ended the night with 16 points and six assists, while Mailey Ballard had 10 points and six rebounds.

Hart 65, Golden Valley 34

Emma Allen had 18 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for the Indians. Emily Munoz added 17 points and three steals and Ally Norton had eight points and four rebounds.

Canyon 68, West Ranch 19

For the Cowboys, Julia Fung scored 15 points and added five assists and six steals. Chidinma Okafor had a double-double with 26 points and 12 rebounds and also had eight steals. Ellie Villavicencio had five points, six assists and three steals.

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